Chairman and CEO of Sony America, Sir Howard Stringer, has confirmed that the company plans to launch PlayStation 3 in Spring 2006, as expected.
The exact details of the launch still remain top secret, leading to some interesting media speculation. GamesIndustry.biz
reports that, while no specific territory was mentioned in the statement, "indications are that a Japanese launch would be first - around April or May, with European and US launches following later in the year, or early in 2007".
While it is logitcal for Sony to launch in their home territory first, anything less than a near simultaneous worldwide release will be a severe blow to Sony's legion of fans outside Japan. Microsoft are doing it with Xbox 360
- an industry first - so why couldn't an electronics behemoth like Sony do it too?
If GI.biz's theory of a staggered release is correct, it will certainly make for an interesting 2006, for many reasons. The first generation Xbox very much struggled for market share in Japan, due to in part to the different style of games played there, but also an element of distrust of the western Microsoft console versus their hometown favourite, the PlayStation 2.
The relative lack of success in Japan hurt Microsoft, and they are using the clean slate of these next-generation console launches to target the average Japanese gamer more aggressively. They may only get four or five month's head start on Sony, but they will do everything they can to leverage that lead.
Meanwhile, Sony fans in the USA, Europe and other territories may be put in quite a predicament. The PlayStation 2 is already widely regarded as technically inferior to Xbox, and while the Xbox 360 vs PlayStation 3 fight is yet to be decided, the question is whether the Sony fanboys can last six or even twelve months longer waiting for PS3 to arrive when all their mates are enjoying lush HD gaming on their Xbox 360s?
If you're Japanese, the answer is probably "yes". In a recent survey of 1000 male & female console owners in Japan revealed that a whopping 72.3% said they would buy a PS3 when it is released. This figure is really quite amazing, given that SCE President Ken Kutaragi has stated that PlayStation 3 won't be cheap
; deliberately price even. "We want people to feel that they want it, no matter what," he said.
Just 5.8% of Japanese gamers surveyed fancied picking up an Xbox 360 this Christmas. Team Xbox certainly has their work cut out for them.
We want to hear your thoughts: will a staggered release hurt Sony even further, now that we know they are launching second? Or is the fanbase just that
huge that they can risk it? Head over to News Discussion
to cast your vote.